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Rib Joints: Where Chiropractic is the Secret Sauce

By Dr. Molly Casey

Your Ribs and Chiropractic

Everyone likes ribs, but we’re not talking about the kind you eat. We’re talking about the ribs you protect, and the ribs that protect you. In the human form, what are ribs for? Can they cause problems? Can chiropractic help if you’re having rib problems? Today is all about ribs galore, but hold the barbecue sauce.

Rib Cage Anatomy

The rib cage is a structure comprised of numerous bones and cartilage. The front of the structure is the sternum, which is commonly called the breast bone. There is costal cartilage that bridges the ribs and the sternum together. In the back, each rib attaches into the thoracic vertebrae. The first rib attaches into the first thoracic vertebrae and so on through the 12th thoracic spine. In a normal body there are 24 ribs, 12 on each side of the spine.

Rib Cage Function

The rib cage has a variety of functions but most significantly serves as a protective mechanism for the heart, lungs, and part of the respiratory system.

The rib cage is part of the respiratory system and helps with breathing as it expands and moves up and out allowing air to enter the body; it also facilitates the pumping of carbon dioxide out as it retracts back into the rested state.

Chiropractic and Ribs

There are joints between the rib bones and the thoracic or mid spinal vertebrae. When the thoracic vertebrae become “misaligned” or don’t move through the full range of motion (restricted), the rib joints and the function of the rib cage can be negatively affected. Conversely when the rib becomes misaligned or doesn’t move through its full range of motion within the joint, it can affect the movement of the thoracic vertebrae.

Chiropractic adjustments of the thoracic spine can increase the mobility of the mid spine as well as the rib cage because of the interconnected levels of functioning the two have on each other. On those occasions when a rib becomes misaligned or restricted with decreased range of motion, there are specific chiropractic adjustments for the ribs. Among the tell-tale signs that one needs a rib adjustment is the feeling that they can’t take a deep breath, or that back pain is very point specific while taking a deep breath in, but goes away when told to hold their breath for a moment.

Ribs and the rib cage are a vital part of your overall health. The proper movement of the rib cage is imperative to optimal breathing. Like your spine, ribs can be in need of an assessment from your local chiropractor! Come see us at The Joint because we’d love to help you breathe a little easier!

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